The G85 first impressions & what Panny needs

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caterpillar Veteran Member • Posts: 6,327
The G85 first impressions & what Panny needs
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The G85 came late in our country. About 9-10 months after it was introduced since last year in other parts of the world. I started looking for one last March, but there was no news on when it would come from the exclusive distributor. I checked the gray market, there was one, but I was not sure on the support if something goes wrong. I decided to wait and just get the fz-1000 which was on closing out sale for U$520. Beginning Aug 1, my vendor called me and finally said the g85 with the 12-60 was available already for around U$990. So, I got one finally, and it came with a 2-year warranty, and was eventually cheaper than the gray market.

Having used the fz-100 for several months prior, I knew the menus and the controls, except some new ones. But even that familiarity, I was still shocked at the improvements and new features. The fz-1000 was not my first Panasonic camera, but it was my first super-zoom one. And the g85 is my first MILC from Panasonic.

Most of the reviews on the camera is spot on, so I won't repeat them. Bottom line, is I am happy with the purchase. It's a keeper! Funny thing is I bought a used 12-35 f2.8 OIS mark I 1.5 months before I got the camera as it was being sold for only U$450. I was itching to use that lens! Upgraded the firmware too fix any past problems.

Overall, I love the feel, the build, the weather sealing, the fast AF in photo modes. The AF-C isn't that bad. I budged the sensitivity to the max (+2) and limited the AF points to the center (not the whole 49-points). The IBIS and dual IBIS is very good. I could handhold shots in the 1-2, even 3 second range if need be. That IBIS is going to be useful when I adapt some of my canon primes later.

What I don't like is the noise in the shadows. The noise reduction helps a bit though it gets a bit muddied with no control to the intensity of noise reduction. It's either on or off only. But the properly exposed areas hold up well at ISO 3200, even at 6400. But if one is picky, just don't overshoot ISO 1600.

Battery life is ok. Not as long as my fz-1000, which incidentally uses the same batteries. I get 70-75 min of 4k-30p video recording per charge. FHD-60p gets 95 min. I did not count the no of shots per charge in photos, but I am sure I will get more than 500 for it. Got a pair of Wasabi batts with charger for U$52 so I won't have to worry. Another thing, ntsc or the g85 does not have the 29:59 video time limit. No need for hacks to over ride it (like in my fz-1000). I do get 100 min for 4k-30p video shooting with the fz-1000. That could be because of its smaller 1" sensor. Another FYI, the g85 gets very warm shooting 4k. But no overheating. We live in a tropical country where 28 C is cool, and 30-32 C is typical.

The only thing I don't like about the g85 is the buttons at the back including the menu and the 4-direction buttons. They are too flush or even that I can't make heads or tails what I am touching without looking. The FZ-1000 has clear delineated back buttons. I can differentiate the menu button, display, erase, etc buttons. I may have to put a sticker or something on a couple of buttons at the back to know which is the menu button and the display button.

The other niggle is the lack of a headphone jack. I can forgive Panasonic for that as I think they want some product differentiation. My Boya wireless has that so, I can bypass that issue. Or one can get a Saramonic mixer, to get that too aside from 2 mic inputs.

I am still in the getting to know stage and finding out the limits and what will and not work with the camera. I like both the 12-60 and the 12-35 f2.8. I am waiting now for the cheap focal reducer adapter (speedbooster) from my vendor so I can use some of my canon lenses (10-22, 50 and 85). This should help me avoid buying more lenses for it until I am sure of my commitment to m4/3. I think I will need a native 15mm or 17mm f1.8 or so though. And maybe a good longish lens. But the latter is later. A fast 30-35mm equiv in 35FF is more important for low light shooting. I think the adapter will be good enough even for manual focusing if I can fit the canon ef-s 10-22 there for my wide angle shots.

The way I look at it, the most serious tech that Panasonic needs to burn the midnight R&D in coming up with OSPDAF. Even if it is just 12-15 AF points they really have to get that tech in. IMO, this is the only serious handicap of the Lumix cameras. Everything is just 95-96% perfect for me. In AF-C, the AF can sometimes be tentative or miss and try to get it. It does not have the definitiveness of the Canon's PDAF or Sony's, much less their speed in AF-C.

The other one is getting a higher pixel count. 16mp is ok, but 20mp is better. I hope the GH5's 20mp will find it's way in the G90 in the next iteration. I think 20mp will be just fine for most general and some specific applications. I was content with the fz-1000's 20mp, so I think if only for this, this is a big improvement.

Overall, it's easy to understand why the g85 is getting a lot of kudos. It has few weaknesses. It's hard to not like the camera. It's relatively small, not so heavy, has articulating screen, with a fully functional touch screen, good AF in stills, acceptable AF-C in video, well thought of menu/UI, weathersealed body (and kit lens), solid build, many customizeable buttons, and dials, etc.

If they can put a 20mp and the beginnings of a OSPDAF in the G90, or G95, this will be a 97-98% perfect camera for me. This is most especially if they can put at least 15-21 PD points in the sensor. But it would be better if they can do it for all the 49-AF Points! If they can do that, this will make a good sports camera and birding camera.

Would I recommend the G85? Definitely! Between this and the Canon M5 or M6 which costs more in our country (M5), and no 4k video, and other nice features, the G85 is cheap and worth the price. The a6000 is aging and may be 2 steps behind the g85 or so. Only the a6300 can match it in some areas and beat it (AF and better low light shooting),, but the Sony needs to pick up more lessons from the G85 and panasonic cameras in general when it comes to UI, touch-screen, and the use of fully articulating screen. I am not familiar with the Olympus or other brands, so I will not comment on them.

Bottom line, the G85 kit is really worth more than U$990 I paid for. It exceeds my expectation. Like anything else, it is not perfect and I don't think any camera will be. But this, and my lowly a5100 are the 2 cameras that makes me smile when I use them, even with their kit lenses. Why? Because, when I use them, the performance, and the images always surprises me and gives me a thrill to see the images. And I can get these images with as little fuss or effort as possible. The technology is enabling me, not a hindrance. It makes me easily forgive any foibles or weaknesses they have. Sadly, it's not something I can say for some brands I've used.

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- Caterpillar
'Always in the process of changing, growing, and transforming.'

 caterpillar's gear list:caterpillar's gear list
Panasonic FZ1000 Canon EOS 5D Mark II Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM Canon EF-S 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 IS STM +15 more
Canon EOS M6 Panasonic G85 Sony a5100 Sony a6000 Sony a6300
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